Who Exactly is Praising ‘America’s Next Top Model’?


I hadn’t caught the first couple of episodes of America’s Next Top Model, so last night was the first time I got to see any of the new contestants. I noticed about a half an hour in that, in some scenes, one of the models seemed to be ever-so-slightly, well, bigger than the others. This was brought up later by the judges, but not in any way I’d have expected.

The model I’d noticed was, apparently, the plus-size contestant on the show, and the judges noted that she’d actually been losing weight. The point was made that it’s remarkable that judges might criticize a model for losing weight during a modeling competition, because that would fly in the face of the public’s perception of the modeling industry.

This is the second season of ANTM to air since the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced its new guidelines aimed at keeping catwalkers healthy and well-nourished. In the first season to air after the guidelines were released, there were two plus-size models on the show, and I thought they both looked believable as plus-size models. This season’s plus-size model seems barely heavier than the typical contestants.

I don’t know that a show should be patting itself on the back for its progressive portrayal of the industry when the only girl who is criticized for losing weight is the only one who started out at an obviously healthy point. I don’t know if any of the other contestants are unhealthy. I am not going to sit and guess young women’s BMIs.

I will, however, point out that there have been some startlingly skinny girls on this show every season, and it is the fact that they have not been openly criticized by the judges for their weight that concerns me.

I’ve only watched two seasons, so it is entirely possible that it has happened in the past. But I have my doubts only because this instance was apparently deemed so notable to ANTM’s producers. It’s fun to watch, but I would never credit ANTM with leading the charge to present healthy body images to the public–especially to the young female demographic the show is aimed at.